At this point, dear reader, four pages are missing from the journal. Why did the diarist fail to write on these days? Did
something happen to him? Were the pages swept away in the storm? Well, let me try to fill in the gaps; its all coming back
to me now. Yes, sitting in my closet I remember, I do remember... Lets see -
Like an enormous whale beached,
unable to move, the Great Peace March lay helpless five days in the sand. One influential marcher, actor Robert Blake, declared
that "anyone who continues on this thing is crazy." He feared loss of life. Well, no marcher died then and there.
But the infant Peace March itself, only two weeks out of the womb, went to a watery grave - in the desert, of all places!
Pro-Peace was bankrupt. David Mixner, the guy who started the whole thing, plopped down in a helicopter and told us it was
over. "Go home!"
So many drove off in cars and vans loaded with gear. "The repo man is coming
to take away all our vehicles, our kitchen and even our porta-potties!" So many went off in Greyhound buses. "We'll
be stranded in the desert with not one support vehicle!" The Peace March was no longer great but smaller perhaps by 700
The glittery, star-studded walk, the traveling Holiday Inn, perished in the desert. But the Peace
March did not die. The whale lived, and, you might say, healthier than before. The marchers themselves took complete charge.
That's how I remember it. But here are more pages from the journal:
I arise with the wake-up gong to a stunning sunrise in orange. But in no time it's raining! And
yet we march. The Peace March is moving again! All the way to Washington, D.C.? Well, let's try to make it ten miles to Barstow.
As we walk into that town folks throw kisses at us - literally: Hershey chocolate kisses. At camp, a caravan from Claremont
awaits us with tons of packaged food plus a hot Indian meal: curried rice and dhal. But my dear Rosalind did not walk into
Barstow with me. She left the March yesterday. Left it for good. Went half a world away. It's turned out to be a far, far
different Walk than the one she signed on for.
We all gather at a church, an Afro-American church way up a winding road on a Barstow hill.
A choir of children sings for us. The mayor of town welcomes us. Fantastic gathering!
Its me, folks, breaking in again - me, the guy in the closet. I have to tell you that ELEVEN PAGES now are missing from this
journal, all from Barstow. Again I must, as best I can, try to fill in a bit for our negligent journalist. Lets see...
Just one day's walk out of Stoddard Wells and the great monster is immobile again - eleven days comatose in Barstow!
Or so it seemed. True, the March to all outward appearances did not move an inch. But inwardly, in the desert, a great sea
change occurred. The monster revealed itself at last in all its glory: the beast was not a whale at all, but a phoenix bird!
Out of feverish organization, from the fires of endless meetings, from its own ashes, arose a wild fowl fresh and new. On
March 28th the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, flags flying, walked out of Barstow.
of things from Barstow are here after all, readers! Looks like our friend with the journal - sometime in those eleven days
in town - wrote a poem and a letter home:
Dear Folks Back Home,
What's it like on the Great Peace March? Freezing, miserable! Up to our ankles in mud
as we stand shivering in the chow line. My cup of soup is half-and-half: hot pea and cold rain. My pizza is sprinkled not
with grated cheese, but with bits of ice, chunks of hail! A fierce wind, fifty mph, blows nasty sand in my mouth. Twelve cases
of hypothermia - twelve Peace Marchers treated with hot soup, hot food, warm bodies - naked in sleeping bags with other naked
bodies to warm, to save lives.
What's it like on the Great Peace March? Hot, happy! Sweltering sun for miles
and miles as we walk singing our hearts out. Sun screen and sun visors and sunglasses. Heavenly nights! The million grains
of sand in our eyes transposed to a billion brilliant stars in our eyes. Five hundred peace marchers holding hands in a circle
round as the moon. Two lovers touching lips in a yellow tent cocoon.
What's it like on the Great Peace March? Sad, lonely! My walking companion with whom I laughed and talked and sang, my survival
partner who helped me with my laundry and tent, my body's delight who shared my sleeping bag - my soul mate is gone! She left
the March. But hundreds of warm, wonderful, attractive, talented women remain. A guy could fall in love ten times a day here.
Already I'm getting sweet on someone.
Whats it like on the Great Peace March? Elation, joy! Children run
out of class to greet us. Old folks in nursing homes roll out on wheelchairs to meet us. Entire towns adopt us. Donations
we get, love and kisses. I love every second of this great adventure. How I wish it could go on forever.
please write soon, for the greatest joy on the Great Peace March is simply a letter from home.
I also found a smaller poem he wrote in Barstow, along with some notes regarding it. These were pretty badly torn, but here
"I did it to kick myself in the behind - to get me off my butt and do some of the dirty work in
camp. (So many fine people were setting good examples.) My work was exclusively mental labor - media, fundraising, community
outreach and all. What is the most awful job in camp? Ah, I've got it! I walked around town writing a poem in my head. Soon
as I jotted it down I found Guy Colwell in a Barstow laundromat. I asked him to do a drawing for my little poem. In ten seconds
he handed me an illustration and in five seconds I was next door at the copy shop. That night, in the dark, I attached a copy
of poem and drawing to each door of all thirty porta-potties. The Gordon/Colwell collaboration inspired many people to volunteer
for porta-pottie duty. And I cleaned the duty - the doodoo - from our portable toilets all across the country."
Porta-pottie Poets come here not to sit and think.
(I bet you're sure I'm going to end this line with stink.)
We sit for inspiration, for our goal, you see,
Is to attain salvation, to emulate Gandhi.
Mahatma was a lawyer, a statesman and a seer.
Yet the mean, lowest toilet-bowl cleaner was his peer.
So be a great
soul like Gandhi - hey, Tom, Sue, and Gus!
Join Porta-pottie Poets: come clean this john with us.